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The Tun Mustapha Park Expedition (TMPE)

A team of marine scientists from Malaysia, the Netherlands and Australia will begin an expedition in the proposed Tun Mustapha Park, Kudat, Malaysia.

The Tun Mustapha Park Expedition (TMPE) will assess aspects of marine biodiversity and ecology, as well as the socioeconomic benefits of the marine ecosystems to local communities in the proposed park. The expedition is organised by Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Sabah Parks and WWF-Malaysia.

The proposed Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) is an area of 1.02 million hectares with more than 50 islands and islets located across Kudat, Pitas and Kota Marudu districts in the Kudat-Banggi Priority Conservation Area (PCA). TMP has unique biodiversity that support a series of complex and linked habitats and is home to endangered marine animals, such as green sea turtles and dugongs.

The proposed TMP produces Sabah’s third largest volume of fishery products from coral reefs, bays and open waters. It is a source of livelihood to 80,000 coastal inhabitants of diverse ethnic groups. This unique demography forms the rich cultural heritage of the proposed park. As a scenic and historical area in Sabah, the Park has great potential for sustainable ecotourism.

The overall objectives of the expedition are to:
  1.  Assess the coral reef biodiversity including reef fish and associated reef fauna richness,
  2. Assess the coral reef status and reef population health,
  3. Verify coral reef categories for the zoning of Tun Mustapha Park, and
  4. Assess the biodiversity of mangrove ecosystem,
  5. Conduct physico-chemical oceanographic studies,
  6. Study the distribution, diversity and abundance of phytoplankton and zooplankton,
  7. Survey socio-economic aspects of the local communities, and
  8. Raise awareness of Tun Mustapha Park and benefits of protecting and managing marine ecosystem.
Jointly leading the expedition are Mr. Muhammad Ali Syed Hussein, Leader of the UMS team; Dr. Bert Hoeksema, Leader of the Biodiversity Team from Naturalis; and Ms. Bobita Ahad, WWF-Malaysia’s Leader of the Coral Reef Status Team. Other expedition participants include marine scientists from UMS, Universiti Malaya, University of Queensland, Naturalis Biodiversity Centre and researchers from Sabah Parks.

The TMPE is jointly funded by Malaysian-CTI (MOSTI through the National Oceanography Directorate), USAID’s Coral Triangle Support Partnership and WWF-Malaysia’s individual supporters.

Tun Mustapha Park

 / ©: WWF-Malaysia/Eric Madeja